By Kathy Chouteau
The West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) had the largest representation at the Berman Speech and Parliamentary Debate Tournament Sun., March 19 at El Cerrito High School, with students from Pinole Valley High, El Cerrito High and Kennedy High coming out for the competition.
In all, 200 Bay Area students from 20 schools competed at the Speech and Debate Tournament hosted by Richmond nonprofit, The Practice Space, and El Cerrito High School. During the tournament, students participated in 13 various events such as parliamentary debate, SPAR debate, poetry, impromptu, dramatic, humorous interpretation—and one they created—Breaking News.
The Practice Space noted that “the competition was fierce, and the students displayed their best skills and knowledge in their respective categories.” Overall, the nonprofit deemed the tournament to be successful, with students showcasing their “critical thinking, analytical, artistic and public speaking skills.”
Students who earned first-place awards due to during the tournament included: Brenna Moore and Arman Aksu, El Cerrito High, Open Parliamentary Debate; Kavya Datt and Sanvi Setty, Washington High School, Novice Parliamentary Debate; Nathaniel Attia, Pinole Valley High, Open Extemporaneous Speaking; Giovanni Razzano, El Cerrito High, Open Impromptu Speaking; Ashley Chinwuba, Pinole Valley High, Novice Impromptu Speaking; Sanjana Kalarickal, Heritage High, Original Speech—Combined; Shaan Singh, San Leandro High, Novice SPAR Debate; Ethan Freed, Las Lomas High, Open SPAR Debate; Seth Raphael, Las Lomas High School, Open Breaking News; Kushal Sharma, Prospect High, Novice Breaking News; Stella Adler and Meridith Lackey, El Cerrito High, Open Dual Improv with Props; Hansini Moka, Brooks Debate Institute, Open Poetry Slam; Elizabeth Duarte, Pinole Valley High, Novice Poetry Slam; and Lyena Monis, Heritage High, Interpretation Combined.
The annual tournament is held in honor of the late El Cerrito Speech and Debate Team coaches and founders Sanford and Cathy Berman, who believed in making speech and debate accessible to youth of all backgrounds, abilities and skills, per The Practice Space.
Tournament Director and The Practice Space Founder AnnMarie Baines said to the student participants that “even if you haven’t found your place in high school, this tournament should be the place where you feel like you are part of a family and part of a team.”
Those wishing to get involved can contact The Practice Space, which offers affordable speech and debate summer camps at its Richmond office for kids in grades 3-8 and also grades 9-12.